Our first full week in the city has been a whirlwind so far! Despite the many blisters we've acquired from walking, EVERYWHERE, and recovering from jet lag and culture shock (its remarkable how different the culture is here), I believe that our strength as individuals and as a team is only growing stronger as we've been diving into ministry this week and deepening our dependence on God and each other. The Lord has already provided in so many ways. As this is the first week I'll give you readers a breakdown of our schedule and highlights from the week!
Monday we started digging into First John One personally and then together during bible study training (which we will have every Monday). I believe the team as whole was able to see that as John puts it "Fellowship with the light (i.e. God)" allows us to have authentic fellowship with each other (1 John1:3) which draws people into Jesus as they see His love mirrored in our love for each other. So armed with the light of our savior - Lindse(a)y's, Kate, and myself (Maura wasn't here yet!) had the opportunity to fellowship with Natalie (Nat as she calls herself) a 3rd year Uni student who attend our Church, The Crowded House. It was so encouraging grabbing lunch with her (the guys on our team ate lunch with a couple of Uni lads from the Crowded House). We ate at the best place in the Student Union at Sheffield Uni, Interval Cafe, and got to sit outside (IT WAS WARM, which is a big deal for this Southern gal). It was lovely seeing Nat's heart for the Lord and for making Him known at the Uni and in the world! We discussed how most UK students don't really understand the concept of sin. They think it's just 'wrong things', which is a result of having no concept of the truth of a perfect God. Sin is not just things we do that are wrong but rather our state of imperfection in comparison with our perfect savior. That being said when we start getting into more evangelistic conversations it's good to know that we need to start with the perfection of God and our sin! Another cool thing that happened on Monday was Kate, Lindsey, and I met three 2nd year students in Coffee Revolution (the coffee shop at the Union) and talked to them for quite a bit. We are going shopping with them this weekend to hopefully connect more, their names are Pippa (no not Princess Kate's sister), Ainsley, and Sabrina.
It's been so easy getting into conversations with students because as Americans we are expected to be more outgoing (it would be weird for a Brit to strike up a conversation with another Brit) but we just have been approaching people as learners and asking questions about their culture. I think in a week's time I've learned more about British culture than I ever thought possible and have learned that the Brits might initially be timid but soon open up and talk about anything!
Tuesday was Maura's first day in Sheffield and first day on campus! She did great recovering from jet lag and was ready to go right away. So after our Personal Development time (which we have every Tuesday and Thursday) we walked to the Union and ate at Interval Cafe again (yes, it's that good). God really showed up because a girl that we met at Starbucks on Saturday and talked to for three hours (we bonded a lot) just happened to be there! It was such a grace of the Lord that she was there and it was clear that He had granted us favor with her because she ditched her friends that she was with to eat lunch with us! We've been able to identify with Christ with her and I've gotten to share a bit of my testimony, so we are praying that we can start to have some good dialogues about her beliefs when we hang out next
Wednesday we had our first team ministry training which Andrew Knight led. It was so challenging and encouraging to be reminded that this summer we are on a team endeavor and as I said above people will know that we are Christ's disciples and prayerfully desire Christ themselves by our love for one another! We had a really team building experience confessing to each other a way we have failed to uphold a commitment we made to the team and it was beautiful for a sinner like me to be reminded that we can confess our sins openly to each other and to Christ without shame because he already paid the price and extended us forgiveness for them! After that we all went on the campus (which if you haven't gathered is what we do most afternoons) and Lindsey and I (we are ministry partners) ended up at Upshot Cafe (super hipster) and ran into a few girls from the Crowded House Church - we got to hear from them about their life groups (small groups).
On Wednesday night most of the team went to our own life groups which have been incredible so far because each life group is centered aroundliving life on mission together. Each group has a different missional focus, Maura and myself are a part of The Nations life group focusing on missions to international students. Pray that the girls (about 8 of them) from China, South Korea, and Japan would continue to be interested in studying the word and would come to know the Lord before they go back home. Maura and I will have the opportunity to help lead these girls in bible studies for the next few weeks.
So that's been our first few days in merry old England. We are all trying to spend as much time on the campus as possible because term is done in two weeks, but the Lord has been good to us in that a lot of the students we've met (especially for the lads) are planning on staying in Sheffield for the summer! The best times have definitely been when we gather as a team at the end of the day and lay the relationships we are building on campus before the Lord in prayer, each team shares who we met that day and we pray for them as a team. Please join us in that because all the power and glory for our ministry belongs to the Lord and without Him we can do nothing!